*************** The ARRL Letter Vol. 24, No. 40 October 14, 2005 *************** IN THIS EDITION: * +ARRL to FCC: Shut down Virginia BPL system * +Northeast US ARES teams ready for more rain * +Civilian in space "phones home" via ham radio * +Ham radio hurricane recovery support operations ending * +New BPL database restrictions irk ARRL * +W1RFI to be guest lecturer at AMTA Symposium * Solar Update * IN BRIEF: This weekend on the radio ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration +Field Day 2005 results now available to ARRL members Scott Redd, K0DQ, sworn in as National Counterterrorism Center Director ARRL announces advisory committee appointments Transpacific reception of Canadian amateur LF signals confirmed +Available on ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> =========================================================== ==>Delivery problems (ARRL member direct delivery only!): email@example.com ==>Editorial questions or comments: Rick Lindquist, N1RL, firstname.lastname@example.org =========================================================== ==>ARRL CALLS ON FCC TO SHUT DOWN VIRGINIA BPL SYSTEM In support of Amateur Radio complaints of interference, the ARRL this week formally asked the FCC to instruct the City of Manassas, Virginia, to shut down its broadband over power line (BPL) system. Communication Technologies (COMTek) operates the BPL system over the municipally owned electric power grid. The League says the facility has been the target of interference complaints, none of which has resulted "in any action or even interest" on the part of the FCC's Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) staff. In the meantime, the ARRL says, interference to local Amateur Radio stations continues. "The Manassas system currently causes harmful interference, and it is not compliant with applicable FCC Part 15 regulations, including Section 15.5," the ARRL said in a 16-page filing to the OET and the FCC's Enforcement Bureau. "Whatever actions either Manassas Power or Communication Technologies Inc might have taken to relieve the problem have not been successful, and it persists to the present time. This is precisely the situation in which the system must be shut down, pending successful resolution of the severe interference." Two years ago, the ARRL put Manassas officials on notice that the League would act on behalf of its members to ensure full compliance with FCC regulations once the city's BPL system, then in the trial stage, started up. The ARRL and the complaining Manassas radio amateurs--George Tarnovsky, K4GVT, Donald Blasdell, W4HJL, and William South, N3OH--cite interference so severe that "no communications can be conducted in the amateur allocations subject to interference," said the ARRL, which accused the city of "stonewalling in the face of repeated complaints." "The parties cannot be said to be working this out cooperatively, since the City of Manassas and its BPL operator are currently in full denial," the League said. Correspondence and reports from Tarnovsky, Blasdell and South outlining repeated contacts with the BPL operator and a lack of effective resolution--and even public denial--of the interference, accompanied the League's filing. All three hams suggested city officials and COMTek have not acted in good faith in addressing the interference. Efforts by the BPL operator to "notch" band segments have proven ineffective. "Our continued monitoring of the Manassas BPL system has shown they continuously open the notches and/or increase signal levels, subsequently interfering with licensed services again," Tarnovsky asserted. "This can only lead to one conclusion--they are not taking the interference issue seriously." Field tests conducted not only by Manassas radio amateurs but by the US Department of the Navy established that the city's BPL system "was an interference generator at distances of hundreds of feet from the modems on overhead power lines," the ARRL wrote. The FCC adopted new Part 15 rules to govern BPL deployment a year ago this week. Manassas earlier this month formally inaugurated its citywide deployment of the high-speed Internet BPL system, which it touts as "the first large-scale commercial BPL deployment in North America." The city receives a portion of BPL subscriber revenues to offset its costs of installing and maintaining the system. A copy of the League's filing to the FCC is available on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/tis/info/HTML/plc/filings/Manassas-BPL-complaint-10-05. pdf>. Additional information about BPL and Amateur Radio is on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/bpl/>. To support the League's efforts in this area, visit the ARRL's secure BPL Web site <https://www.arrl.org/forms/development/donations/bpl/>. ==>ARES TEAMS IN NORTHEAST BRACE FOR MORE RAIN Some two dozen Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers responded this week in southwestern New Hampshire, where flooding ravaged communities in the vicinity of Alstead and Keene and claimed at least three lives. ARRL New Hampshire Section Emergency Coordinator Dave Colter, WA1ZCN, said ARES volunteers provided communication support for the American Red Cross and the state Bureau of Emergency Management as well as for the City of Keene. "We were able to get communication into places where the state does not have communications and probably still does not have," he said Wednesday evening. In anticipating additional deployment, Colter said, ARES teams planned to position themselves in advance in areas that might become isolated by further flooding. They stood down at week's end. Heavy rainfall in the Northeast over the past week has swollen rivers and streams in several states, and the resulting flooding badly damaged homes and highways, while fallen trees took out electrical power in some places. In all, at least 10 people have died throughout the region. Northern New Jersey SEC Steve Ostrove, K2SO, reports Passaic County ARES/RACES was on full alert assisting the Office of Emergency Management in the wake of severe flooding as the Passaic River overflowed its banks. Flooding also has been reported in Bergen and Essex counties. Some New Jersey. residents have been urged to evacuate. Northern New Jersey got up to six inches of rain in two days on top of a similar deluge the previous weekend. Power was reported out in part of Connecticut as a result of the heavy rain, and the University of Bridgeport was forced to cancel its classes on October 13. In Western Massachusetts, Section Manager Bill Voedisch, W1UD, reports the Franklin County emergency operations center activated after flooding along the Green River resulted in damage to residences in Greenfield. "Everyone expects more rain from Worcester County to the New York state line," Voedisch told ARRL Headquarters October 13. "I don't know how much will fall, but the weather report says as much as five inches. The ground is saturated." ==>CIVILIAN SPACE TRAVELER "PHONES HOME" VIA HAM RADIO During his eight days in space, Greg Olsen, KC2ONX, the International Space Station's third civilian space traveler, touched base via ham radio with students at three high schools, including his alma mater. He spoke October 5 with Princeton High School in Princeton, New Jersey, October 6 with Ft Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, New York, and October 7 with Ridgefield Park High School in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey. Olsen, who lives in Princeton, was born in Brooklyn and graduated from Ridgefield Park High School. One Princeton student wanted to know how much less time would pass on the ISS than on Earth due to relativity. "That depends on how long you're up here," responded Olsen, who has a master's degree in physics and a doctorate in materials science. "Every second you lose about a billionth of a second. That's because we're going 17,500 miles per hour." Eschewing a more technical explanation, Olsen said the difference worked out to "about a microsecond a month." Another student asked Olsen what luxuries he missed most. "It's either good food or a hot shower," he quipped. Olsen's contact with Princeton from NA1SS was believed to be his first ham radio contact. Serving as the Earth station for the first of Olsen's school contacts was NN1SS at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where Mark Steiner, K3MS, and Dave Taylor, W8AAS, were at the controls. Tony Hutchison, VK5ZAI, was the ground station for next day's contact with Ft Hamilton High School. Olsen told students there that the first two civilian space travelers, Dennis Tito, KG6FZX, and Mark Shuttleworth, got him excited about going into space. "I'm old enough to remember when Sputnik was launched," allowed Olsen, who's 60. "As a youngster, that really got me excited that people could actually go into space." Olsen said his experience aboard the ISS has "more than fulfilled" his expectations. "You can only dream about what it's like to float about for a long time," he said. "When you do it for a sustained period of time, it's really different and exhilarating." While in space, Olsen did some medical experiments for the European Space Agency. He also took swab samples from various parts of the ISS for later biological analysis. "I just love it up here," he said, but added, "I'd hoped to do more science." Olsen was able to answer 16 of the Princeton students' questions, and 11 of those put to him by the Ft Hamilton students. The third scheduled contact with Ridgefield Park High School was less successful than the two previous. Early questions centered around Olsen's initial plans to bring the miniature infrared imager his company, Sensors Unlimited Inc, had developed, to observe Earth's atmosphere and agricultural regions. Olsen explained that due to a variety of circumstances, he was unable to take the imager into space, but he explained that the device can be used to sense the amount of water vapor. "If crops are very healthy, they'll have a lot of water and they'll absorb heat--water absorbs heat--so the image will look black on camera," he explained. "If the crops are dry they'll have very little water and would reflect a lot of heat, so it will look white in our image." Among other applications, he said, the device also could be used to determine the amount of water in clouds. Olsen said experiments on Earth using the device indicated that it could be used to detect the presence of tumors. Earth station control operator Gerald Klatzko, ZS6BTD, lost contact with NA1SS as Olsen was answering the fourth question from a student at Ridgefield Park High. For all three contacts, an MCI-donated teleconference link provided two-way audio for the school from the respective Earth stations. The ISS Expedition 12 crew of Commander Bill McArthur, KC5ACR, and Flight Engineer Valery Tokarev, formally took over the space station October 8. Olsen returned to Earth October 11 with the Expedition 11 ISS crew of John Phillips, KE5DRY, and Sergei Krikalev, U5MIR, aboard a Soyuz transporter. The Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program arranged the three contacts, and local radio amateurs assisted at the schools. ARISS <http://www.rac.ca/ariss> is an international educational outreach with US participation by ARRL, AMSAT and NASA. ==>AMATEUR RADIO HURRICANE RECOVERY OPERATIONS WINDING DOWN Amateur Radio operations to support relief and recovery operations in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita continued to wind down this week as conventional telecommunication systems returned to working order. On October 9, ARRL Alabama Section Manager Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, shut down his American Red Cross Amateur Radio volunteer intake operation in Montgomery. Sarratt had overseen that function for about five weeks. "Today, on the 37th day of Amateur Radio operations at the Montgomery, Alabama, American Red Cross center, the amateur radios were powered down for a final time," Sarratt said. "It was a strange feeling packing, saying goodbye then walking out of the old Super Kmart building knowing I would not return tomorrow." The Montgomery center is still operational for other Red Cross relief and recovery efforts. In addition to checking through volunteers, Amateur Radio station W4AP at the Montgomery staging facility monitored day and night to keep in touch with HF-equipped mobile operators traveling to or at their assigned locations. After Sarratt and his volunteer staff spent their duty tour registering and orienting hundreds of Amateur Radio volunteers for deployment to hard-hit Gulf Coast communities, Sarratt spent a couple of days last week visiting some of the American Red Cross shelters those volunteers went on to serve in Mississippi. "My tour included Yankie stadium in Biloxi, Hancock EOC [emergency operations center] at Stennis Airport, the future Hancock EOC and Harrison County EOC in Gulfport," Sarratt said. "Part of the tour was a visit to the hardest-hit areas in each county. Currently, I do not have the words to describe the devastation." One visit was with Mississippi District Emergency Coordinator Tom Hammack, W4WLF--volunteering at the Harrison County EOC. Sarratt reports that during his stopover, Mississippi National Guard Lt Col Richard P. Martin presented Hammack with a certificate of appreciation for his service. The certificate reads, "For outstanding service and devotion to duty during Hurricane Katrina disaster relief operations." Hammack has been living in the EOC since Hurricane Katrina flooded and badly damaged his house. In his off time, he's been attempting to work his way through the damage and debris. Sarratt said he enjoyed meeting the volunteers in the field and that his time at the Montgomery ARC marshaling center was gratifying. "It has been a pleasure working with all the American Red Cross personnel during this relief operation," he said. "My job was made much easier by all the excellent help and support shown to me by the ARC Response Technology Team staff." He also praised the volunteers, some of whom traveled significant distances to help the Red Cross and other relief organizations and agencies, including The Salvation Army, other faith-based groups, emergency management agencies and EOCs. "A few amateurs signed up to be redeployed when we put out the call, and many more inquired and sincerely wanted to redeploy," he said. "This effort was a success and a huge help to the people and workers in the devastated region," Sarratt concluded. "Many non-amateurs now know what works when all else fails." Red Cross Volunteer Services staffer Ginger Flynn, who worked with Amateur Radio volunteers in Mississippi, reflected Sarratt's sentiments from the agency's point of view. Flynn said that in mid-September, the Red Cross was struggling with erratic cell phones and Internet connections for communication. "The hams solved all these problems, and we were able to communicate needs, and meet emergency incidents immediately," she said. "These men and women take their personal time and fund themselves to make this contribution to the American Red Cross and the American people." ==>ARRL OBJECTS TO BPL DATABASE ACCESS LIMITS The new Broadband over Power Line (BPL) Interference Resolution Web site provided by the United Power Line Council (UPLC) and the United Telecom Council (UTC) now is open <http://www.bpldatabase.org/>. But the ARRL has taken strong exception to limitations the site's administrator, UTC, appears to be imposing on the number of allowable licensee searches. A note on the Web site cautions that each licensee "is allowed to search a limited number of times each month" and advises them not to conduct random database searches lest their access to the database be further restricted. ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, said the provision is inappropriate and the database fails to meet the letter or spirit of the Part 15 BPL rules. "This notice is totally unacceptable to the ARRL and should be equally unacceptable to the Commission," Sumner said October 14 in a letter to FCC Office of Engineering and Technology Acting Chief Bruce A. Franca. Sumner noted that the new Part 15 rules speak of a "publicly available" and "publicly accessible" database. "It is unacceptable for the database operator to attempt to discourage the public from making full use of the database by threatening to ration access," he asserted. The FCC this week formally announced its designation of UTC as the Access BPL database manager as mandated under Part 15 regulations governing BPL that the Commission adopted one year ago today. The regulations spell out specific interference-mitigation requirements for BPL systems and mandate the new "BPL notification" database. The database is designed to provide information for FCC licensees to contact BPL system operators in the event of harmful interference a system may be generating. Part 15 requires the database to include the name of the Access BPL provider; frequencies of operation; postal ZIP codes served by the specific BPL operation; the manufacturer and type of equipment and its associated FCC ID number; contact information, including both phone number and e-mail address of a person to facilitate the resolution of interference complaints, and the proposed and/or actual date of Access BPL operation. BPL operators have until November 19 to comply. Sumner also said that requiring users to enter a ZIP code before gaining access to the database "is clearly contrary" to the requirement that the database be available to the public. "All of this information must be accessible and available to the public without having to enter a ZIP code," he contended. "The ZIP code is simply one element in the database, not the basis on which access to the remaining information may be restricted. There can be no restriction to the public's access to any of the information contained in the database." FCC rules require that BPL system operators supply information for the database no later than 30 days prior to initiation of service. The information must be available to the public no more than three business days later. Sumner argues that making the database searchable only on the basis of ZIP code conflicts with the advance notification requirement. "This advance notice is required so that licensees may document the radio frequency environment prior to activation of the BPL system," Sumner said. "For the information to be available only in response to the entry of a ZIP code renders the advance notice requirement meaningless and blocks the achievement of the objectives for advance notice" spelled out in the FCC's October 14, 2004, BPL Report and Order. Sumner said the inadequacy of the ZIP code requirement is further illustrated if a user happens to enter a ZIP code that apparently does not match the database. This yields the message "No BPL Operations Found in Your Area." It also directs users to contact the UPLC, providing written details concerning the nature of any interference and of the user's licensed operations, including location, frequencies, type of operation and a brief description of the interference. "This, too, is unacceptable," Sumner wrote. "UTC apparently intends to restrict the availability of information to the public according to its own definition of 'need to know.'" He said no FCC licensee or other radio user is obligated to share such information with a third party, "and most certainly not as a condition of access to information that is required by FCC regulations to be available to the public." Sumner called on Franca to immediately inform UTC to revise and correct its BPL database system and bring it into full compliance with Part 15 no later than November 19. Because ARRL is operating a Motorola Powerline LV BPL system at W1AW in cooperation with the manufacturer, the League is a BPL operator under Part 15. The ARRL has requested a user name and password for administrative access to the database. ==>ARRL LAB MANAGER IS GUEST LECTURER AT AMTA 2005 SYMPOSIUM ARRL Laboratory Manager Ed Hare, W1RFI, will be a guest lecturer during the 2005 Antenna Measurement Techniques Association (AMTA) Symposium October 30-November 4 at the Newport, Rhode Island, Marriott, 25 America's Cup Avenue. Hare's free presentation Tuesday, November 1, at 7 PM, is open to all Amateur Radio licensees. Arranged in cooperation between AMTA and ARRL, Hare's talk will focus on Broadband over Power Line (BPL) and will provide background on the electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) issues associated with this technology. A presentation will follow on the antenna modeling and measurement techniques ARRL uses to assess interference from BPL. It will include a description of test methods and a program through which radio amateurs and others can contribute to a utility-industry project to assess BPL systems. A member of the ARRL staff for more than 19 years, Hare is a member of the IEEE EMC Society and the IEEE Standards Association and serves as a member of the IEEE EMC Society Standards Development Committee, chairing its recently formed BPL study project. More information on AMTA and the 2005 AMTA Symposium is available on the AMTA Web site <http://www.amta.org/>. ==>SOLAR UPDATE Solar seer Tad "Will the Sun ever Shine Again in the Northeast?" Cook, K7RA, Seattle, Washington, reports: For the upcoming week, solar flux and sunspot values should remain about the same, which is low. Predicted planetary A index for Friday through Monday, October 14-17 is 10, 12, 10 and 5. According to Geophysical Institute Prague, October 18, 19 and 20 should be quiet, October 17 quiet to unsettled, unsettled conditions on October 14 and 16, and unsettled to active conditions this Saturday, October 15. Sunspot numbers for October 6 through October 12 were 28, 31, 24, 16, 11, 25 and 17, with a mean of 21.7. The 10.7 cm flux was 79.5, 78.8, 78.1, 78.9, 79.1, 77.6, and 76.8, with a mean of 78.4. Estimated planetary A indices were 4, 11, 22, 9, 10, 6 and 1 with a mean of 9. Estimated mid-latitude A indices were 2, 11, 16, 7, 7, 5 and 1, with a mean of 7. __________________________________ ==>IN BRIEF: * This weekend on the radio: The Jamboree On The AIR (JOTA), the YLRL Anniversary Party (SSB), the JARTS WW RTTY Contest, the Microwave Fall Sprint, the Worked All Germany Contest, the Asia-Pacific Fall Sprint (CW), the UBA ON Contest (2 m), the RSGB 21/28 MHz Contest (CW) and the Illinois QSO Party are the weekend of October 15-16. JUST AHEAD: The ARCI Fall QSO Party, the CIS DX Contest and the 50 MHz Fall Sprint are the weekend of October 22-23. The CQ Worldwide DX Contest (SSB), the eXtreme CW World-Wide Challenge, the 10-10 International Fall Contest (CW) and the F.I.S.T.S. Coast to Coast Contest are the weekend of October 29-30. See the ARRL Contest Branch page <http://www.arrl.org/contests/> and the WA7BNM Contest Calendar <http://www.hornucopia.com/contestcal/index.html> for more info. * ARRL Certification and Continuing Education course registration: Registration remains open through Sunday, October 23, for these ARRL Certification and Continuing Education (CCE) on-line courses: Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Level 1 (EC-001), Radio Frequency Interference (EC-006), Antenna Design and Construction (EC-009), Technician Licensing (EC-010), Analog Electronics (EC-012) and Digital Electronics (EC-013). Classes begin Friday, November 4. To learn more, visit the CCE Course Listing <http://www.arrl.org/cce/courses.html> or e-mail the CCE Department <email@example.com>. * Field Day 2005 results now available to ARRL members: ARRL members may now access the ARRL Field Day 2005 Web report and Scores database on the ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/members-only/contests/results/2005/FD/> (you must log on to the ARRL Web site as a League member to view these pages). The December issue of QST will include a full report on ARRL Field Day 2005. Non-members will be able to download a PDF file detailing the results on or about November 1. For more information, contact ARRL Contest Branch Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, <firstname.lastname@example.org>. * Scott Redd, K0DQ, sworn in as National Counterterrorism Center Director: Well-known DXer and contester John S. "Scott" Redd, K0DQ, has been sworn in as the first director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). Vice President Dick Cheney presided over a ceremonial swearing-in September 12, at which Redd was accompanied by his wife, Donna, and several family members. President George W. Bush announced June 10 that he was tapping Redd, 61, to direct the new center. Redd officially assumed his new duties August 1. * ARRL announces advisory committee appointments: The ARRL Membership Services Department has announced the appointments of two advisory committee chairmen. ARRL President Jim Haynie, W5JBP, has named Ward Silver, N0AX, to a one-year term as the chairman of the Contest Advisory Committee (CAC). Silver succeeds Joe Staples, W5ASP, who served with distinction at the helm of the CAC for about two and a half years. Staples will remain the West Gulf Division's CAC representative. Haynie also reappointed Jim O'Connell, W9WU, to another one-year term as chairman of the DX Advisory Committee (DXAC), which he's headed for the past two years. * Transpacific reception of Canadian amateur LF signals confirmed: Low frequency enthusiast Steve McDonald, VE7SL, reports the first confirmed transpacific reception of Canadian Amateur Radio LF (137 kHz/2200 meters) signals occurred October 4. "The slow-speed (QRSS) CW signals of VA7LF were confirmed heard near Wellington, New Zealand, at the Wellington Amateur Radio Club station at Quartz Hill," McDonald told ARRL. "Signals from the ZM2E club station were heard in Canada as well, but propagation was not of sufficient duration to enable a QSO to be completed." The next scheduled transpacific tests will be in the spring. ZM2E and UA0LE hold the current Amateur Radio two-way LF world record at a distance of 10,311 km. The distance between VA7LF and ZM2E is approximately 11,700 km. =========================================================== The ARRL Letter is published Fridays, 50 times each year, by the American Radio Relay League--The National Association For Amateur Radio--225 Main St, Newington, CT 06111; tel 860-594-0200; fax 860-594-0259; <http://www.arrl.org/>. Jim Haynie, W5JBP, President. The ARRL Letter offers a weekly e-mail digest of essential news of interest to active amateurs. The ARRL Letter strives to be timely, accurate, concise, and readable. Visit ARRLWeb <http://www.arrl.org/> for the latest news, updated as it happens. The ARRL Web site <http://www.arrl.org/> offers access to news, informative features and columns. ARRL Audio News <http://www.arrl.org/arrlletter/audio/> is a weekly "ham radio newscast" compiled from The ARRL Letter. Material from The ARRL Letter may be republished or reproduced in whole or in part in any form without additional permission. 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